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Leaving Daliconi

Before leaving the village we made one final trip ashore to say our goodbyes and to drop of the photos we’d made. Then it was the pleasant but short trip back to the Bay of Islands where we anchored near Sagittarius and De Capo. On arrival we visited both boats sharing our surplus bananas, papayas and bok choy from the abundant gift from the village.

In the afternoon Bob and Lynette from Sagittarius took the older kids from Da Capo out to see the nearby caves and we joined Adrian in his dinghy. We knew there were some around but didn’t know where they were. The first could only be approached at mid tide. There was a ‘porch’ where the two dinghies could be parked where we disembarked and walked into the cave. Using torch light we could see loads of echo locating swallows and a few bats flying around the roof of the cave. The second cave had to be swum into. It wasn’t so big but was pretty cool to briefly explore.

We ended up on Da Capo for the evening and somehow drank more than we intended – how does that happen? We had a good evening getting wrapped up in some heated economic discussion. Given our state of minds I’m not sure if anyone learned anything useful.

We are definitely leaving here shortly. Our goal is Welangilala 27nm to our north where we’ll stay for a couple of nights.

Mopping up

Usually Helen gets to read my blogs before I send them off and gets to add her perspective. Yesterday I sent it off before she woke up. Largely because she took a long time to wake up – the reason was something I should have blogged yesterday. And that is that during the early hours it rained very, very heavily. This had woken Helen up who’d gone rushing round to close the side ports and doors which normally didn’t let the rain in but in this case could hardly contain the block of water that fell from the sky.

The rain had fallen so heavily it had gotten into the void beneath the rear companionway, from there into the port lazarette and then into the port bilge. My makeshift double pump cobbled together a week or so ago worked fine but it did mean some time had to be spent draining the water out of these spaces during the morning while Helen went on a cleaning round.

Earlier in the morning I had popped around the corner to visit Sagittarius in order to swap hard drives so we could grab hold of movies, TV Series, etc. that we each didn’t have. Copying these onto my laptop took most of the day.

After lunch we took off on an extended tour of the bay in the kayak. Just to the south of us is an area with lots of small islands. Almost all the coastline round hear overhangs the coast by 4-5 feet. Put another way, the sea has eroded the land at sea level causing the rocky land to overhang. For the really small islands the islands seem balanced on a very small base. We were able to paddle the kayak in and out of this maze of small islands and inlets finding small clumps of mangroves inhabited by various birds. In the shallow waters we’d occasional surprise a school of fish which would dart about frantically beneath us.

We then headed over to the islands to the west of us over the other side of the bay where we found two more places where we could explore a maze of inlets and small islands. We returned to Dignity by paddling across the bay against the wind and chop. This left us feeling quite hot so we snorkeled the area near the boat.

The large amount of rain the previous night had left a layer of fresh water floating over the salty water below which made effects which we’d not seen since Niue last year when the various densities of water mixed as we passed through. In general the water was pretty clear and we saw a lot of fish. One of my favourites these days are the clusters of tiny blue fish that hover over a branching coral which then all dive for cover within the coral when one waves one’s hand near. We both got excited at one point when Helen spotted an enormous lobster sitting very still on the sand beneath us. Very still. Too still in fact. It was dead and hollow – perhaps a discarded husk from a recent moult. Oh well – it does mean they’re around somewhere.

At 5:30 Bob and Lynette came over for G&Ts and to return our hard drive. A couple of those and a beer and we were all merry. Once they’d left it was dinner and a bit of a movie before retiring for the evening.

We’ve had a glorious sunrise this morning so perhaps we’ll have a nice day (I don’t think this ‘shepherds warning business applies at sea – after all, where are the sheep?). We’ve had a really nice relaxing time (mostly) here in the Bay of Islands. We’ve really enjoyed our own company and that of others. But it’s time to move on. Right now, we’re still planning on heading back to the village today and staying a couple of nights before moving off completely.

Not a lot

The forecast showed lots of rain coming in with an overnight wind shift from the north. We figured where we were anchored was more or less the best place to be. We did shift the anchor further into the bay to give us more room to swing in all directions. Sagittarius came past and Bob and Lynette swung by to say hello. They’d found the anchorage by the village rolly and had a bad nights sleep so they’d returned to the Bay of Islands for some flat water. They were too tired to be social yesterday. We may meet up today.

I did a little more fishing off the back of the boat and snagged an small emperor sweet lips which went in the bag in the freezer with the previous day’s grouper. With the boat swinging around in the variable winds the hook / weight would drag on the sea bed and I lost two sets of weights / hooks in rock/coral.

The rest of the day was spent reading and playing cards.

Looking further out the weather looks temperamental for the next few days. We expect some light northerlies for the weekend with some rain. It looks like another front will come through Monday evening followed by light southerlies. Sometime after that we’ll need to leave. We would like to put in another visit to the village and maybe take the truck overland to Lomolomo on the other side of the island which goes on Mon,Wed,Fri. We’ll see. May not work out.

The Bay to Ourselves

By the time we had woken, Just in Time and Ivory Keys had already left the area as planned. I’d borrowed a USB stick from Sagittarius the night before and so after breakfast I kayaked over to drop it off. I stayed for a coffee and a chat so by the time I was paddling back to Dignity they were also off. Without leaving the kayak, Helen joined me to explore the nearby area and to get some exercise. After our paddle we decided to try out another anchorage.

For the rest of the day we had the entire Bay of Islands to ourselves which was nice. I spent a little time fishing in the afternoon and bagged a small grouper which ended up in the freezer. In the evening we had barbecued steaks.

We have no firm plans yet for today. Much will be dependent on the weather. We know another system is bearing down on us and we do know that once it’s passed we’ll start working our way back west. We need to be at the west end of Viti Levu by the end of July to meet up with our friends and have more or less worked out our route to get there. Our charger, as far as we know, has still not reached Savusavu so we have time to get there. From Savusavu we expect to take the inside reef track north of Viti Levu stopping off at Makongai along the way. Prior to reaching Savusavu we have a few places we want to take in but it will all depend on the weather.

Fork and Company

The evening of my birthday saw a fork go overboard. Our usual trick is to tie a line to a bag of weights and on the other end of the line tie a buoy. This is all dropped overboard as soon after loosing the utensil as possible so a morning recovery is possible. Once it was light enough I donned my gear and went on the prowl. The first problem was that the buoy/line had evidently been caught up on the boat overnight and dragged around the sandy sea floor. It was fairly easy to trace the path the bag had been dragged so I move the whole affair back to it’s starting point so I had a good reference. I eventually found the fork half buried in the sand and brought all back aboard the boat.

Shortly before 11 we decided to move the boat a short way, just for a change of scene. As we headed out of our little alcove we saw two more boats approaching the general area from the north. They were both kiwi boats and we remembered seeing them in Savusavu and one in Opua just before we left. We decided to invite them over for the evening so once we’d anchored and settled, as had they, I zipped over in the dinghy to invite them all over along with Sagittarius.

After a left over curry lunch we had a lazy afternoon reading broken only by my swim down to the anchor to make sure it was all ok. In this case I decided to move the anchor a little to put it behind a lump of coral as the sea bed where we are is somewhat rocky.

In the evening the Sagittarius’s, Ivory Keys and Just in Time’s all came over for drinks and nibbles and left rather late. It was nice to have company and, as ever, it was a good evening.